County Folk Lore is a collection of stories written by Ewart Simpkins John in 1914, and is released for free on The book explores the different uses of the social sciences, and we have selected the specific chapters that highlights life, old sayings and superstitions from around the Fife area and specifically in Lochgelly.

A list of common superstitions and sayings around Fife

  • It is unlucky to begin work or start on a journey on a Friday.
  • It is unlucky to turn back after you have started out from the house.
  • It is unlucky to shake hands twice on saying good-bye.
  • It is unlucky to dream of eggs ; eggs mean ” clashes ” (evil-speaking : disputes).
  • To dream of rats is unlucky ; rats mean enemies.
  • To dream of a washing means a ” flitting ” (removal).
  • To dream of the loss of teeth means a death.
  • To dream of the loss of fingers means the same.
  • To rub the nose when you rise in the morning means that you will hear of a death before night.
  • It is unlucky to meet a woman with untidy shoes or stockings.
  • If a man’s (or woman’s) bootlace comes undone, his (or her) sweetheart (or wife or husband) is thinking of him (or her). (Evil wishing ties knots ; good wishing looses them.)
  • It is unlucky to put your shoes on the table, it will cause ” strife.” Ill luck can be averted by spitting on the soles.
  • If two ‘ people wash their hands together in a basin, the sign of the cross should be made in the water.
  • It is unlucky to go under a ladder.
  • It is unlucky to spill salt. If done some salt should be thrown over the left shoulder.
  • Breaking a mirror means ill-luck for seven years.
  • It is unlucky to give a present of a knife or scissors. It ” cuts love.”
  • Sudden silence means that an angel is passing through the room.
  • It is unlucky to look at the new moon through glass.
  • On first seeing the new moon you should turn a piece of silver in your pocket.
  • It is unlucky to give undue praise to horses, cattle, etc., or children. If this is done it constitutes ” fore-speaking ” and evil will follow. Hence probably the Scots invalid on being asked how he is says he “is no ony waur ” he avoids fore-speaking himself.
  • A cat will ” suck ” a child’s breath and so cause death.
  • A horse ” sees things ” invisible to the driver, ” What are ye seein’ noo ? ” is a common remark when a horse shies without apparent cause.
  • It is lucky to have a horseshoe in the house.
  • A woman whose child had died, said to me : ” This comes o’ laughin’ at freits.” On enquiry I found that she had always condemned those who kept a horse-shoe at the fire-side (a common custom). She immediately procured one.
  • A pig sees the wind.
  • The ” hole ” in the forefoot of a pig is where the devils entered the Gadarene swine.
  • A man who has killed a lot of pigs in his day has a good chance of seeing the Devil.
  • It is unlucky to ” harry ” a swallow’s nest.
  • If a swallow flies below your arm that arm will become paralysed.
  • Swallows or crows building near a house are lucky.
  • It is unlucky to have peacocks’ feathers in the house.

County Folk Lore VII

Author: Ewart Simpkins John
Publisher: Sidgwick And Jackson Limited
Download Link:

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